World Soil Day: Addressing erosion to ensure food security

December 4, 2019
 in NewsBy Onyedi Ojiabor

Soils are essential to achieve food security and eradicate hunger, food security and nutrition rely on healthy soils which are the foundation of our food systems. JULIANA AGBO in this piece examines stakeholders opinions on the best way to ensure healthy soils and food safety.

Every year, stakeholders converge globally to celebrate World Soil Day on December 5, a day established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to raise awareness about the importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

Soil is the main resource base and the most productive natural capital for many people in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially for the rural population.

According to report by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), about two million people still suffer from lack of nutritional deficiencies.

It said soils are deteriorating worldwide are becoming less fertile, as they provide less nutrients to plants, leading to serious nutrient deficiencies in crops, with direct consequences on human being.

It further explained that nearly all plant nutrients are taken up from the soil and need to be present in sufficient quantity and availability in the soil, adding that the nutrient supply to crops and food relies in the first place on the nutrients present in soils.

While soil is the most productive natural capital for many people, erosion is recognised as one of the world’s most serious environmental problems.

Soil erosion by definition,  is a systematic removal of soil, including plant nutrients, from the land surface by the various agents of denudation which occurs in several parts of Nigeria under different geological, climatic and soil conditions.

It can also be regarded as merely a geomorphological process, whereby the surface layer of weathering rock is loosened and carried away by wind or running water and a lower horizon in the soil is exposed.

It is pertinent to note that soil erosion is happening faster than ever recorded. The declining issues of land availability and increasing population density has intensified rapid urbanization, conversion of arable land to non-agrarian uses and intensive cropping/shorter fallow periods thereby exacerbating soil erosion”

This alarming fact reaffirms the need to raise awareness through World Soil Day of this growing problem, as the earth’s population continues to expand.

Globally, it is believed that about 80 per cent of the current degradation of agricultural land is caused by soil erosion.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.